Wednesday 24th what a night! It started off very well, at 16:00 hrs. I cooked on the small terrace close to my camping pitch. It was a small stone patio with a few small round metal tables, chairs, a cooking area and a couple of outdoor sinks. The weather had been blistering hot all day and there was going to be a beautiful sunset. I set up my camping stove on one of the metal tables so I could see the roof tops of Verona as I prepared my evening meal. It was to be my remaining food supplies which consisted of a packet of wild mushroom risotto. It seemed to take forever to make and I’m sure it was a family packet as I was unable to eat it all. I chatted with a German couple who had just spent the past 2 weeks cycling around Italy but due to work commitments had to fly back home. Surprisingly they didn’t think I was mad cycling across Europe and were very encouraging, it was a pity my funds couldn’t stretch to completing my original plan of circumnavigating the globe. I washed up after my evening meal and had a cappuccino at the bar whilst I charged my tablet. I decided to pay for the camping now so on Friday I could leave early if I wished.
I ventured back into Verona which was proving to be a wonderful place to spend my last few days in. Once again I walked through the castle grounds, down the 200 or so stone steps, crossed the stone arched bridge over the fast flowing river, under the arch in the city walls, turned left along the narrow cobbled street and straight passed Julia Roberts sat outside a restaurant. I had to look twice as she smiled at me, Julia was with 3 other people and I didn’t want to be that person who walked over and asked for an autograph or photo, on reflection I should’ve done. Apparently Julia was in town as that weekend was George Clooney,s wedding in Venice and she was filming nearby too.
I had the intention of eating a late meal in Verona as I would be heading back to the UK soon and it was to be my last treat and to round the journey off. I made a point of avoiding streets I had walked down before, I came across a familiar corner with Saint Anastasia on it. The church was surrounded by towers and a large fence and a stone coffin over the church entrance. I turned left along Corso Anastasia, there were several osteria’s along the narrow street. I looked at the menus outside a few, continued to the end of the street where it joins via Rosa and towards Piazza de Signori. I then turned back along the street I had just come up and went in Osteria Guilette E Romeo. At first I didn’t know the name of the small and very old osteria I had chosen for my meal, it was only when I was seated upstairs that I noted the name from photo’s hanging on the walls. It turns out that the photo’s on the wall was of the owner and the famous people he had met throughout the years he’s been in business, I didn’t recognise any of them. The restaurant had a certain appeal, it was very small almost like I was sat in someone’s lounge, looked very old and very Italian with sketches of Verona on the walls. There was a very old bookcase in a small alcove full of old leather-bound books and wooden tables and chairs for the patrons of this osteria to sit and enjoy their fill.
I had studied the menu outside the front door and had already decided I was going to have the menu of the day for €17, it was a 2 course fixed menu with wine, sparkling water and some stale bread. Starters consisted of flat pasta strips with meat, similar to spaghetti Bolognese. It tasted like it was made fresh by grandma herself, who was actually waiting on, I bet she was about 90 years old and had been waiting on since she was a little girl. I noticed on the menu which sat perched on my table this dish was also available with pieces of donkey, this brought back memories of Leglise when the donkeys in the field followed me up the hill. My main course was veal covered in a creamy mushroom sauce and yep it was just that a delicious piece of veal with mushroom sauce, no vegetable or potatoes just veal. However both the course were extremely delicious and very filling.
I walked slowly back through Verona and back up the steps to my castle. I had a becks beer on the terrace before retiring to my tent for the night, I blew up my sleeping mat, hoping it would stay up all night so I could get some sleep. That wasn’t going to happen, around 4:30am I heard the sound of rustling of leaves just outside my tent door. At first I thought someone was walking past the front of my tent, however this would be impossible especially in the dark as I was about 3 feet from a stone wall with my bike propped up against it and my tent guy lines tied to my bike, so there was no path in front of my tent and no one would have reason to walk past. I was hoping it was the waitress from breakfast trying to track my down but unfortunately not. I heard more movement but this time it sounded like someone was playing my spokes, I slowly unzipped the tent door to discover a black and white cat sat on my rear rack. I had seen the cat several times before but didn’t know how musical it was, it kept sticking its paw in between my rear panniers and playing my spokes. Occasionally it would jump down and look up in between my rear panniers then jump back on my bike. I got out of my sleeping bag put my shoes on and got out of the tent to persuade the cat to give up its musical endeavors and go away but it just kept returning and jumping on the bike. I decided to investigate further and lifted one of my panniers off the bike and sat in the middle of my rear wheel clinging on for dear life was a rat. I spent the next hour trying to get both animals to leave, I had to pull up the sign for plot B12 to use to prod the rat but when I did it shot up my arm and jumped into the vines hanging over head, of course the cat followed in hot pursuit. This went on for a while as the rat avoided the cat and went straight back to my rear wheel where it knew it was out of reach, however it hadn’t anticipated that as I had removed my pannier the cat could now get at it. After an hour of chasing them both around I gave up and got back in my tent, blew my sleeping mat up, took off my shoes and got back in my sleeping back and tried to ignore what was going on outside the tent, not a chance! Once the rat had figured out the cat could reach between my rear spokes it darted under the fly sheet in front of my tent, the cat went berserk hitting my tent as it attempted to catch the rat. Either the cat had caught his evening snack or the rat had got away, anyhow it went quite. I unzipped the tent door to take a look expecting a half eaten rat to be outside but I only found the cat sat there staring my down. I zipped the tent closed wondering if I was next on the cats list and tried to sleep.
I woke at day break and luckily the cat had gone, I looked under the ground sheet which makes up the tents wet area and no rat so I got up and went for a shave and shower the water was hot and I had the place all to myself most people who were at the campsite the day before had packed up and gone. I went to check my emails over a fresh orange juice followed by a coffee, today will involve a siesta.
I then went back to my tent to sort out what I would be throwing away and what I would leave for other campers to use. I wasn’t sure what to do with my hammock but decided from now on this would turn into a credit card tour, no more cooking and if I needed a bed for the night I would stay in a hotel. When I got back to the tent the cat was sitting on my porch staring at the door, I chased it off. I opened my tent to find there was a lump under the ground sheet, I guessed it was the rat so checked to see if the cat had really gone before sliding it to the edge of the tent. It popped its head out of the ground sheet and it looked hung over its hair was sticking up and it looked knackered. The rat then hopped across the campsite and into some bushes, I hope it’s learnt its lesson and doesn’t return. I would also appreciate if it tells all its rat friends to avoid the area.